One of the government’s transport policy and agreements with it’s coalition partners made it clear that they were looking at options like tolling and road pricing. This was reinforced in it’s draft Government Policy Statement released at the start of March which made a couple of references to it.

Road pricing, such as tolling and time of use charging, will play a key role in the delivery of the Roads of National Significance programme, as part of a wider package of transport revenue and investment tools.

Tolling provides an opportunity for an additional source of revenue and will support infrastructure which provides reduced travel times compared to alternative routes. Time of use charging will improve travel times and network performance, reducing overall costs for freight businesses and their customers.


The Government is very aware of the need to address this potential reduction in funding. We are initiating policy work to determine the tools required to meet our future revenue needs and provide a predictable and sustainable revenue outlook. This is likely to include road pricing alternatives, time of use charging and the transition of all vehicles to road user charges.

Radio NZ reports that some of those options are being looked at and pushed already.

Transport Minister Simeon Brown is being encouraged to look at tolling existing roads to relieve pressure on strained transport funding.

At present only new highways can be tolled to help pay for them, and only when there is a free alternative route.

But officials have told Brown they wanted to talk to him about exploring congestion charging “and/or relaxing the constraints on tolling legislation to include, for example, the tolling of existing roads”.

“Currently tolls can only be applied to new roads where there is a free alternative. Legislation could be changed to allow tolls on existing roads,” they said in advisories released to RNZ by the minister under the Official Information Act (OIA).

These also show the officials have taken this further.

“We have identified potential changes to legislation that would help us to simplify our systems and in turn reduce costs of the tolling system,” a briefing in February said.

Outside of congestion charging in cities, there are probably a few places where tolling an existing road might be possible, such as the recently completed Puhoi to Warkworth motorway but I suspect it would take a brave government to do so.

The article shows where the real value in pricing is.

Congestion charging was a “behaviour change tool and has the lowest revenue potential compared to the other tools”, one newly released document said.

But because it could put motorists off making trips or encourage them on to public transport, and so reduce the need for new infrastructure, the savings were “essentially the equivalent of revenue”, it said.

Reducing the need to build infrastructure in the first place is something we as a country need to have a proper conversation about. Getting congestion pricing in place and seeing the impacts it has should be a prerequisite to any future major road projects in our cities. You could argue that it raises the most of any realistic alternative funding proposal.

The article also highlights one of the big issues with tolling, the high collection costs.

But the current systems – used on just three highways – are highly inefficient, swallowing a third of the fees, which are ringfenced to pay for each road – $11m out of the $35m goes on operations. Moves on both the legal and tech fronts aim to tackle this.

It’s also worth remembering just how little the existing tolls cover and Waka Kotahi provide some useful information about it here.

The Northern Gateway Toll Road (NGTR) – between Orewa and Puhoi – opened in 2009 and cost $375.7 million to build. Of that, $217.7 million (58%) was paid out of the National Land Transport Fund (NLTF) while the remaining $157 million is debt being paid off by the toll, now at $2.60 for light vehicles and $5.20 for heavy vehicles. Interestingly, because it took a while for traffic volumes to pick up enough, it appears that toll revenue wasn’t enough to cover the interest on the loan, hence Waka Kotahi said last year that there is still $204 million in debt to pay. The debt is currently estimated to take until at least 2039 to pay off

The Northern Gateway Toll Rd approaching the Johnson Hill Tunnels

At the time the NGTR was one of the most expensive projects we’d built and even adjusting for inflation over the last 15 years, bringing it to around $550 million, it looks like a bargain compared to some of the projects being bandied about at the moment.

The Tauranga Eastern Link was completed in 2015 and cost $456.2 million to build. Of that, $349.2 million came from the NLTF with $107 million as debt to be repaid by tolls. There is still $107 million left to pay and Waka Kotahi estimate it won’t be paid off till 2040.

Most of the new roads being proposed by the government have lower traffic volumes than these roads, something also noted in the reports.

Most roads still lacked the volume of traffic to make tolls work, the papers said.

They also noted recent “public backlash” in Norway and Australia where tolls were fairly widely used. Those countries’ tolls are typically higher than in New Zealand.

The most likely new highways to next get tolled are the Ōtaki to Levin highway and Takitimu stage one north of Tauranga. Brown was likely to get proposals for these, the papers said.

Tolling on Penlink, being built near Whangaparāoa, was approved by the previous government but opposed by officials partly due to inefficiency: “The Ministry of Transport advised that the proposed tolling scheme was not in its view efficient or effective.”

A Penlink toll requires Simeon Brown’s approval to push it through and would be costly, at $21m to buy and install the gantries – and fancier, allowing for peak and offpeak toll rates for the first time, the papers showed.

Given the previous government already signed tolling off, why does this still need Simeon’s approval?

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  1. “Given the previous government already signed tolling off, why does this still need Simeon’s approval?”

    Because the last government didn’t finish their homework, and until cabinet actually passes an “Order in Council” to legislate for it , it can’t happen..

    The new Minister needs to get Cabinet to sign off an order in council…. so obviously he needs to be on board with it….

    “In March 2023, the Minister in consultation with Cabinet, approved the proposal to toll O Mahurangi – Penlink. An Order in Council for the tolling scheme will be developed and put in place before the new road opens in late 2026.”

  2. A lot of the new motorways should have been tolled, but they weren’t perceivable due to public pressure. Tolling may have gone some way into making them more economically viable.
    Waikato Expressway – Hamilton section
    Transmission Gully Motorway

    Any of the new RoNS that National want built, would be ideally candidates for tolling as well. Especially:
    East-West Link
    Takitimu North Link
    Piarere-Cambridge expressway
    Otaki-North of Levin expressway
    Petone-Grenada link

    1. Certainly would be more efficient to collect the tolls the more we have, surely.

      They could set up a whole factory & industry for gantry making & installation and pump out hundreds of the things for all over the country 😉

    2. I can see it now.They could get the price of gantries down to a couple of million a pop, with million of labour and 500k of traffic management fees and road cone hire to install each one of them.

      But given recent advances in AI and machine vision you can put together a machine vision system to read all the number plates in your street for pocket change. So there’s no reason for even commercial grade systems to be particularly hard or expensive to install in the future.

      Having first made the right technological choices just slapping cameras on conveniently located bridges or poles would be a better option for many roads. I can bet we’ll see a lot of pushback from Big Gantry on that.

  3. There are ways of making tolling existing roads more palatable. Bill it as an improvement to road user charges rather than a new tax. Then at day one levy both positive and negative tolls depending on time of day in the areas where the system is getting started, with those tolls applying only to vehicles already paying road user charges. Then bring fossil-burning light vehicles into the system. Again, billed as replacement for current tax rather than some new impost.

    1. NZTA is responsible for both the tolling and the RUC system. Given both are tied to plate number It’d be pretty trivial for them to devise a system where your tolls paid were credited back against your RUC account, or where each toll dollar paid credited you with some free RUC miles, something like ‘Frequent Driver’ points. And that’d deal with the fact that today a very small percentage of kiwi roads get hit by tolls, but most drivers soon (if government plans come to pass) will be paying RUCs as well. So there’s an element of double dipping there based on fairly arbitrary decisions as to which roads to toll. Of course they’d have to WANT to do that. Arguably RUCs and Tolls are both just tolls for road use charged in a different manner. The only advantage of Tolls is that they can be location and time of day based in an attempt to modify behaviour.

      1. “Frequent Driver Points”. Oh. My. God. Simeon would like that.

        Last year, we still had a (mostly ignored, it’s true) goal / policy to reduce driving per capita.

        There’s a German saying “Nach uns die Sinflut” (meaning – “After our time, the (biblical) deluge)”.

        This is pretty literally where policy is going full steam to. Ignore the downsides for climate change, safety etc – a very narrow and very short-term definition of “economic productivity” trumps all.

  4. Puts the ill-considered proposal for a 4km long tunnel under Wellington into the spotlight! Actually, there would need to be two tunnels, one each way. At this stage the broad guestimates are looking like around $9 billion for the project construction, even if it was technically feasible. Pretty certain that it would never go ahead – but if it did go ahead, and if it was tolled, how much would a toll on it be, if you gave it 40 years to pay off the sum?

    Say, 30,000 cars per day, at $10 per car, that would bring in about $2million each week, or $100million per year. Unfortunately, to pay it off over 40 years, and not allowing for ANY inflation, they would need it to be bringing in $225 million a year – and so the cost would need to be at least $25 per car, per day, plus inflation, every day for the rest of your life… and I don’t think that Wellingtonians would be keen to pay that. Nor anyone really, when there are two or three alternative routes available. Just another really dumb idea from National.

    1. I’m convinced the tunnel idea was just put out there to show the costing for the alternatives in a positive light.

      1. Yes, KLK, you’re probably right. But then again, it does not take too much brain power to do a couple of calculations to show how silly an idea it is. I know that Simeon doesn’t have much experience or much brain, but really, it is just going to make him out to be a prize idiot when the “investigations” come back in a year’s time. Does it really take a year to write that report? Couldn’t they do it in, like, 15 minutes?

  5. We as business owners and public do not mind to pay a toll fee to save time – our time is valued much more than the toll fee charged. Bring it on -there are alternatives for people that want to save money and have the time to travel on these roads. Toll roads also take traffic off secondary roads, so it is a win-win outcome

    1. Its why I’m curious about what the toll will start at and under what mechanism it can be increased.

      Numbers of $3.50 and $5 one-way have been bandied about but I would have thought this would have been just a minor inconvenience for the time and petrol cost saved, not to mention the comparison with what PT would cost. Which is a long way of saying I don’t think we’ll get much reduction in congestion if the daily cost is just $10…

      “Toll roads also take traffic off secondary roads…..”

      I thought it had the opposite effect?

        1. Depends on the route. Penlink wouldn’t, as the Northern Gateway starts north of it, and it’s a shortcut mostly for people going south. To my knowledge there are no routes proposed to duplicate the Northern Gateway, only ones further along the corridor to add to.

        2. Penlink is as much a benefit to the residents of Silverdale, Orewa and surrounding suburbs and others heading to Northland as it is to residents of Whangaparoa since it should remove traffic off SH1 between the Penlink turnoff and Silverdale and significantly reduce volume on Twin Coast Discovery Highway between the Silverdale interchange and Whangaparoa rd. Fairer schemes would either charge per mile regardless of which roads you were using, or extend tolling for the entire length of SH1. From that perspective the focus on two overlapping collection methods, RUCs for All and Tolling Everywhere each with their own quite significant overheads and enforcement problems is a little baffling.

          Anyone who thinks old SH1 from Silverdale to Warkworth is a safe, practical or attractive alternative to the new SH1 toll road or is going to cost you less overall to drive that way is on drugs. The same will be true for Whangaparoa rd once Penlink comes in. So the ‘Alternative route exists’ test is fairly arbitrary as a surface street route that doubles your travel time is apparently considered an ‘Alternative’. By that criteria old SH1 out of Wellington is an Alternative to Transmission Gully, as would be any of the many other ways to get from Auckland to Hamilton that don’t involve SH1. It’s not a problem with tolls per se, just we currently seem to have somewhat random choices as to where to toll and where not to.

      1. Yep. Actual congestion charging needs to be dynamic (time or live congestion based), and it needs to be set by some body relatively independently of politicians with the express goal of getting congestion under control. Like a congestion reserve bank. It probably will have to be quite expensive to drive todays most congested routes to see real gains.

        And although most of the benefit comes from the pricing existing (ie you could burn the money and still be better off than no congestion charging) the funds need to go towards something worthwhile for voters.

  6. Doing the sums on tolls as a recovery of capital investment is necessary and worrying – Wellington example shows that!
    USA went from Turnpikes to Freeways (free of charge, NOT free flow).
    Introducing tolled roads in the network where there is not a free alternative is legally a nightmare, but time-of-use charging on highways and rural arterials my be feasible, especially if true toll roads are increasing in number.
    In any form, the collection of use charges will be a growing difficulty. Number plate theft is already an issue and hard to deal with in remote areas.

  7. Get real. No to tolls and no to congestion charging. Its all a red herring to frighten the public into accepting increased taxes. Study the costs and find better ways to construct before more tax. Also get rid of consultants and designers clipping the ticket. Cost of the little underground railway is a great example of BS figures thrown around for some many years and its still not built. BS figures for lite rail downDominon Rd is another good example

    1. Where have you been these last few months Phil? The government is slashing and burning the Public Service so that they can afford tax cuts. They are very unlikely to then turn around and put them back up again.

    2. Come join me here in London when the congestion charge and Ulez charge have just gone up again. About NZ$ 60 a day now.

      NZ’s levies for fines and tolls are a joke.

    3. The main point of congestion charging isn’t to raise money for construction or to offset taxes or whatever else.

      The points are to see what the revealed preferences are. To use economic means to discover what should be built and what shouldn’t. Find out how much these trips are worth to people so they can made tradeoffs about how they use public resources (roads at peak times). Just having a price delivers most of the benefits of congestion charging.

      It’s highly likely that most of today’s proposed new roads aren’t worth building, people wouldn’t be willing to pay what they cost to build. Only when compelled through blanket fuel or income taxes can they be built. Voters / drivers aren’t asked “would you use this road if it cost you $15 a trip” instead they’re asked “do you want to drive on this new road, oh by the way people who will never drive on it will pay for most of it”, obviously the answer is yes. Like asking a 12 year old if they want lollies and chips for dinner, they don’t directly realise any of the tradeoffs.

    4. Drivers have been subsidized for decades without realizing it, so actually making them pay their way now makes them feel like they’re being attacked and leads to reactions like this (and the anti-ULEZ lobby in the UK).

    5. Adam It’s not really a subsidy if you’re paying for it another way. By all means charge people up front on a usage basis and remove all other taxes and any other source of public funds going to the mode. Just be consistent and do that for cycleways, busways, trains and so on. Yes, do that and soon you will be crying for the return of subsidies.

  8. There is an alternative to a toll roads or a new roads or an existing roads – build a better railway links between the main centres.

    1. There’s no way that’d come remotely close to covering its costs. How about put the fare on Te Huia up to what it actually costs to provide the service as a proof of concept for your bold plan? Once Te Huia is breaking even, consider which the next link could be.

      1. So do you want to be paying $4 per litre or $100 per 1000km for cars and $1000 per 1000km for large trucks (actually even more but I digress)? Cos that’s what they would need to pay if roading wasn’t subsidised.

        1. When you’re paying more than the actual cost (thru taxes and rates, RUCs and tolls) for the amount of roading that you personally use it’s not really ‘subsidised’ is it?

          Subsidisation only applies if you’re paying for someone else’s use of something.

          If you told me I could pay $4/litre in tax on fuel or alternatively $100 per 1000km and that RUCs would be gone and every other road funding cost would be removed from the taxes and rates I pay, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank.

          PT users and cyclists would be sobbing into their non dairy lattes if the true cost of their service was suddenly apportioned totally to them but that’s an acceptable outcome.

        2. Rates are the very definition of paying for something someone else uses. Ratepayers pay exactly the same towards roads if they don’t own a car as they do if they drive $100,000kms a year.

        3. “PT users and cyclists would be sobbing into their non dairy lattes”
          I must admit the imagery of that got me laughing.
          Disclaimer I am a PT user, cyclist & drink an oat milk flat white normally twice a day.
          I think you would find that many cyclists and PT users drink dairy milk coffees in NZ…actually come to think of it, I did, partly by accident today.

        4. jezza on the flip side they also pay for subsidised childcare for a lucky few, mixed use paths, recreational events you may never attend, raised crossings, those tiny green compost bins you see blowing down the road and the rental of hundreds of thousands of road cones.

          ‘Ratepayers’ do all pay a base number for roads as a percentage of property value but a 100k road user is also paying fuel tax and/or RUCs. And today that road user is also paying for PT they may or may not also use.

          I agree it seems fairer where it is easily possible to do so to charge people for just the services they use, or for council to not even be involved in provision of many of those services. You also seem to be arguing for a more ‘User Pays’ scheme?

          I guess a council would argue that when you consider all the things you do and don’t use it all comes out in the wash, which may or may not actually be true.

          A large issue with councils is that they are territorial monopolies with few if any incentives to improve their delivery of services short of the population electing politicians who promise to improve efficiency and redirect the bureaucrats away from their own personal agendas and to do more of what the population actually wants. They then have to effect change and extract performance from a ‘yes minister’ style bureaucracy and a heavily unionised workforce who are very much wedded to preservation of the status quo.

      2. Te Huia runs directly beside a massively subsidised RONS (Waikato expressway). If that road was still a 2 lane death trap with queues for miles, maybe Te Huia would have better patronage and not need subsidy.

        1. You mean if Te Huia competed better with the road it might be successful, but since it’s a less attractive option to consumers, it’s not? If only there was a branch of learning that predicted those kind of outcomes we could have saved quite some money there.

  9. The government has a lot of pet projects which it can’t really afford and are not viable for PPP simply because the traffic isn’t there and I don’t think that tolls would work either for that reason. We can’t ignore the fact that we are a rather large country with a rather small population.

  10. I don’t mind tolling as long as it is not too high like the current ones. The mistake is using them to fund the builds. Clearly they don’t keep up with debt payments so noone wins. Better just to use them to pay for ongoing maintenance of the highways. That way they can also be added to existing highways.
    It is stupid that transmission gully is not tolled. But unfortunately Helen set a NIMBY precedent when she stopped Waterview from being tolled

    1. Well assuming you were going to build it anyway, you’d still have to find the revenue from elsewhere to fund the project, so having a contribution towards it is better than not having one.

      However the wastage NZTA’s toll collection process is shocking. If anyone was running tolling like they were running a business rather then government department then overheads would be much lower. As identified it is the first problem that needs solving before considering wider tolling of roads.

      Otherwise just slapping on higher fuel tax or increasing RUCs is a much more efficient way to collect revenue that also spreads the ‘Tolling’ across all road users rather than just a few unfortunate ones whose local MPs didn’t have the clout to oppose tolling a road near them.

      Waterview, Transmission Gully, Hamilton Expressway and the new connector between SH1 and SH18 seem to be prime candidates to have had tolls applied to. You can’t easily escape paying a toll right now if you use the new Northern route out of Auckland so there’s no logic for the new Hamilton expressway and Transmission Gully not to be tolled as there’s also a back road goat track workaround for each of those that would get you where you were going. And in any case why is that even a criteria? Avoiding northern gateway or penlink would cost most people more in gas and time than the toll costs, so the rational thing to do is pay the toll.

      Similarly registering bikes, giving them plates and using the same back end for cycleways could allow them to be tolled as well with new cycleways funded from the collected tolls.

      Finally moving to 100% farebox recover in PT would balance up the scales there. It’s not really fair to keep piling costs on roads users then raiding their piggy bank for other projects as well.

      Also for Penlink, 21 million for gantries? What are they planned to be made out of, the same material AT uses for raised crossings?

      1. I think you ignore what would be the toll if these roads were to be truly user pays. There is no pot of money to provide equity in these new roads, Everything essentially is debt funded.
        Italy that has ten times our population, and millions of tourists, charges about $12 per 100km to fund their autostrada. So $15 as a road toll from Auckland to Hamilton? I’m all for it. It will go a long way to removing economically poor decisions for our country where people choose to locate themselves at huge distance from their place of work.
        Unfortunately NZ will not be able to fund new roads with a toll of only $12 per 100km, as there is simply insufficient traffic.

      2. I don’t ignore what it would cost at all. But let’s be realistic about it. If the toll to Hamilton is $15 that’s not actually outrageous. Anyone driving Hamilton to Auckland if we believe the IRD knows anything is spending ~ $0.95/km (your number may of course vary based on fixed costs for your vehicle, how many total miles you drive a year to amortise those fixed costs over and how economical that vehicle is).

        The comparable Te Huia fare needs to be at least $90 each way to bring that to a more user pays level.

        And KLK lets not make up imaginary numbers, just start with charging the PT users at minimum what we know it costs to provide the infrastructure and service. Roads, buses and cycleways are getting paid for today out of someone’s pockets, the total amount of money to fund each doesn’t change if you change how it is collected. We’re just talking about shifting the burden more to the users of each rather than having some other anonymous pool of non users pay for them. We have a very good handle on the size of PT subsidies so that is an easy first step. Want to virtue signal in your transport choices? There’s no better way to show your commitment to the cause than reaching into your pocket to pay the full cost of that choice.

        Same would go for making evil car owner’s rates, taxes and tolls go only towards their evil car use rather than being siphoned off into paying for the ‘virtuous’ modes. If you can make the argument that car users are under-paying then by all means increase their costs. Of course if you use all modes you can pay for your use of each.

        If you were already paying for the service in some other tax, fare, toll, rates etc that needs to be removed not just repurposed elsewhere with a new higher user pays toll/tax/fare added to your chosen mode. The total money taken stays the same, just who pays it changes. And if debt funding is the right answer nothing changes there, just who ultimately pays the interest bill. If that means cars or PT or cycleways are no longer economically attractive to some of their users and their usage goes down then that’s likely the right result.

        1. I’m not against user pays as a concept at all. And save me the knee-jerk insult that I must think cars are evil (boring). You want user pays for PT, then we make it user pays for everyone else. Or don’t do it all and for once accept all forms of transport are subsidised. Just pick a side and don’t hedge your bets based on personal preference

          $15 to Hamilton? IRD reimbursement rates rather than cost of build and maintenance? Try $50. Plus parking.

        2. Well, we could go all user pays for just about anything. roads, all PT, footpaths, water, electricity, hospitals, schools, police, maybe OK, as our income and GST tax could be very low indeed but would that even work? Demand would drop then everything would collapse…aghh too much brain power to think all this through, I’m sure someone or two has written a book on it. Only the very rich could do anything except sit at home and rot. It’s probably a fundamentally “good thing” to provide at least a basic level of services for the people of any country or system.

        3. You’re missing the point. The $0.95 is about what the IRD estimates drivers are paying today out of their own pocket for every kilometre they drive including the costs of vehicle ownership, insurance, gas, maintenance etc (or $0.11-$0.34/km after 14,000km, running costs only). It’s not including anything else they are paying in taxes to maintain roads (except taxes included in running costs)

          And if you re-read the above you’ll see I’m fine with all modes shouldering their costs. But in some cases that’ll probably mean an order of magnitude increase for bus and train ticket prices and a need for a robust mechanism to bill cyclists. Costs directly paid by car owners would increase too. But other taxes that currently pay for roading, public transport and cycleways need to decrease as well if you start charging by actual usage. If you are currently a net subsidiser of others, you’ll end up paying less once your rates and taxes reduce appropriately. If the modes you use are being subsidised to a greater extent than you’re subsidising any other mode today you’ll end up paying more.

        4. Grant it pays to provide services that people typically won’t pay for like a police force and a judicial system to enforce basic property rights.

          Much past that it’s an open question whether we are better than the government at providing and making purchasing decisions on healthcare, education, electricity, water, transport and other services we require.

        5. There is billions of dollars worth of land under our roads. If they give that away for free then I don’t consider that user pays. If they expected an ROI on it then people would choose more space efficient options like buses / trains / cycles because cars would become incredibly expensive.
          If they properly privatised the roading network (which wouldn’t really be that difficult) like they did with trains a few decades back, cars would almost become obsolete in the big cities. Hence why the likes of ACT (who would privatise everything if they could) have never mentioned roads.

        6. It is also a system that benefits the rich: Less (income based) taxed and more user charges means that the more money you have the smaller the proportion of your income that goes towards necessary services is.
          Therefore, another brilliant scheme to subsidise people who are well-off to begin with and limit options for people with less money.

          If everything has to return profit, do we charge for parks as well? Beaches? The military could possibly raid some island nations to bring in money. Libraries can be replaced by book stores. Police could sell the guns, drugs and cars they confiscate. So many opportunities!

        7. JohnBGoode we’ve already had a situation where we were subsidising drug dealers to run treatment programs for drug addicts (a nice circular business model) so having the police sell drugs they seize seems like it’d help them out with knowing who to raid the next day and re-sell the product again and again. And actually the police do already resell cars they confiscate.

          And to “subsidise people who are well-off to begin with” you’d have to be reducing thier taxes by more than the service should cost them. What you mean is them paying only their fair share by usage would mean that those people are no longer required to subsidise others and others would now be required to pay the full cost of the service. Perhaps those others might make a decision to consume less of it in the process. Any scheme like tolls or congestion charging shouldn’t include a carve out for the poors. It’s actually by design that they are being encouraged to mode shift to a mode they can better afford.

          Libraries could easily be replaced by online lending substantially reducing costs. Or as you note you’re free to buy used books and resell them or pass them on to friends and family after you read them.

          As to raiding island nations to raise money, that kind of thing is frowned upon these days. We should probably just stick with the precedent of sending out bills to travellers to have the military involuntarily incarcerate them for a week or two on arrival into the country.

          And if you’ve been overseas you will have seen parks and beaches you have to pay to go to.

        8. I am just glad that we don’t live in the kind of society that you seem to argue for (yet). I hope, there are still free playgrounds in the future, even though the vast majority of people does not use them.

        9. JohnBGoode the vast majority of people who work already pay someone to play with their preschool child while they are working. That is done in private playgrounds only available to those children for whom a fee is paid.

          And other playgrounds aren’t ‘free’. Today you typically pay for them through your rates (or transitivity through your rent if you are not a property owner).

        10. Grant it seems the police will also auction you a used crowbar (which they perhaps correctly name a ‘pinch bar’) They’ve sold used boltcutters. Given that I’m surprised they don’t also sell masks, black and white striped shirts and sacks with ‘loot’ written on them.

  11. One reason why there is insufficient funding for roading is because so much road revenue is spent on non-road services eg. Buses, trains, expensive cycleways, etc. If it was spent directly on the services that the revenue was collected for, ie motorists, there would be more avails for direct road expenses.

    1. Got some figures to justify that?

      Also some projects under the “cycleway” category often include much more that a cycleway such as drainage, street upgrades with trees, climate change resilience (ie raising a road so not prone to flooding).

        1. I’ll bet there would have been a lot of people lining up to upgrade 4.5 km of revetments and seawalls for less than 70k per linear meter, with no requirement for a bike path on top.

          The bike path may be a nice recreational addition but the most optimistic forecasts suggest it’ll carry less than an hour or two’s worth of single lane vehicle lane traffic per day. Nice to have recreationally but not any form of commuter or congestion reduction strategy compared to other ways the same amount of money could be spent.

          Since tolls are the question here I have to ask: would you pay $40/day to take that cycleway to work and back? Or $160 to take the partner and a couple of kids on it in the weekend? Or are you just glad the money to pay for it came out of other people’s pockets?

    2. Are you sure cycleways are “non-road services”? If it wasn’t for all the dangerous cars, cyclists could use the roads safely as they did many decades ago.
      Same goes for buses – if the roads weren’t so busy (like say 50 years ago), we wouldn’t need busways etc.
      I guess if cars paid a fair price for the exclusive use of all of that land under the roads you may have a point, but that would be very very expensive!

      1. You might want to consider how many people the average cycleway or bus only lane in New Zealand transports compared to a car lane before wishing that those costs be apportioned to their users. Hint: almost everywhere the car lanes have better utilisation compared to the almost empty cycle and bus lanes for the pro-rated amount of footprint they have allocated.

        1. God not this argument again – and I see you’ve trotted out some bollocks comment about Te Huia not competing with a gold plated 4 lane 110kmh highway.

          Considering there are almost no actual networks of cycle or bus lanes in NZ – let alone actual safe lanes for cycling no wonder more people do not do it. One of the actual places that has segregated bus infrastructure (ie Northern busway) apparently carries something like 40% of people over Harbour bridge at peak times. Imagine if there were actual proper networks linking up and proper density around the stations.

          We get it, you love cars and expensive highways

        2. Barry that’s the reality, Te Huia doesn’t compete. And you seem to be acknowledging that a road is just too good a competitor for a train in that circumstance and 4 lane 110kph highways actually get the job done better. And not everyone who leaves Hamilton for Auckland is bound for Papakura or the Strand.

          There are hundreds of kilometres of cycle lanes in Auckland. How many more do you need before this magical network effect you’re expecting kicks in and people start using them to transport more people than the same amount of real estate given to a car lane would? 400km? 500km? 1000km? 5000km? Never? Unless cycle usage increases substantially it’s far from ‘a bollocks argument’ it’s a fact. And that fact stands separate from your or my transport preferences. Just because you don’t like the fact doesn’t make it untrue. Now that’s not an argument against cycle lanes from a recreational perspective, just that they don’t compete with cars as a transport solution.

          We can all imagine a future where we add another 100km of cycleways and magically people start using them all at levels greater than a lane of cars could carry. But the trend so far hasn’t borne that out. So it’s equally possible to imagine adding another 500km or 1000km of cycleways and they are used no more (per square meter) than they are today.

        3. You miss the point UserPays. Cycleways are *not* connected up in Auckland except for a few examples & only quite recently. When a safe cycleway comes to an end and throws you into general traffic the average person wouldn’t use it unless they can make use of the (often short) section they have currently built.
          Also the bicycle *does* compete with cars as a transport solution, but mostly over a short to medium distance, ie the trips most people make, when there is a safe cycleway of sorts to use. I’m talking about manual pedal bikes too, e-bikes open us up to another greater distance factor. There are studies, facts, figures, survey that show this to be true. There are other factors why people may not take up cycling, such as inadequate parking – ie somewhere to easily lock your bike to at the dstination. Compare that to cars give multitude of parking spaces in the same location. Requirements to wear helmets, yet pedestrians are not.
          Regarding Te Huia. Are you seriously thinking that the amount of funds put into that “Starter” service is equivalent to what has been spent on upgrading the Waikato Expressway over the years (starting in the early 1990’s). Consider the funds *not* put into upgrading or even keeping the related rail track in any quality condition just in those 3 decades alone.

        4. Are you remotely comparing the number of passengers Te Huia carries a day with the number the Hamilton expressway does? On a per passenger basis the winner is quite clear.

          If bicycles effectively competed with cars in the eyes of transport consumers, they’d be used more. So your sample size 1 opinion that they do fails compared to the wisdom of the market.

          These ‘Short’ sections you mention are in some cases now tens of kilometres long and do connect to other cycleways. But I’ll repeat the question, how many hundreds of kilometres of cycleway do expect will be needed for this network effect you predict to magically appear? Or are commuter’s choices already being accurately expressed? Ask consumers if they feel that commuting by cycling would be nice and you’ll get the same answer as asking them if they think they should floss, eat better or go to the gym more. Then observe what they actually do. We’ve already established that on current AT numbers they don’t use lanes as well as cars would.

          And are you seriously suggesting that cyclists should’t wear appropriate PPE for the activity in which they are involved? A huge amount of work has been done to make other vehicles safer and stronger in crashes with the standards required to protect the occupants ever increasing. No smart motorcyclist would commute without wearing leathers and a helmet. With the speeds e-bikes are reaching what should the smart e-cyclist be wearing? lycra shorts and top, bare arms and legs and no helmet?

        5. “Are you remotely comparing the number of passengers Te Huia carries a day with the number the Hamilton expressway does? On a per passenger basis the winner is quite clear.”

          Come on, the point is Te Huia is slow and very average compared to what it would have been with more investment. It won’t suit everyone or every trip, but would sure get a lot more passengers if it was:
          – more suitable for Aucklander’s to go south as well.
          – was 7 days a week with a bigger span of operating hours
          – was every 1hr in both directions
          – travel time was more like 1.5 hrs (ie “higher speed rail”)
          – good stations and connections at either end (this is coming really with Hamilton City underground setup with shopping ctr on top, Britomart post CRL should be able to take it if the trains were modern electric/battery or diesel hybrids.
          – additional stations along the way – this is coming too. Likely Te Kauwhata and Mercer next from memory, maybe Pokeno before that.

          Not really going to argue on the cycle stuff but just to say 10’s of kms connected is a bit of a stretch of the imagination.
          Five routes maybe: NW Cycleway (+Henderson Creek) to city (Pink Path or Grafton Gulley), City to Tamaki Dr & Eastern Path (pretty much) to GI. Waterview & New Lynn to Avondale Path, SW Path, & Onehunga Harbour Edge but lots of that is motorway or more recreational, not kind of always useful for everyday biking, but we are getting there, some quite new for people to change behaviour. Everything else is quite disconnected from anything else or just a bit of paint on the road. Some Southern Motorway bits will soon be around 10 kms. I must get out and ride some of these again more often, kind of gone off my radar.
          So in summary not bad for some lucky few but swathes of areas where people actually live, work & play have nothing.
          Compare that to hundreds of km’s of general road and motorway.

  12. Tolls make no sense at all. Why are new roads more special than existing? Imagine if you had to pay more to go to a new hospital / new doctor / drink new water / use power from a new power plant / etc.
    Just increase fuel tax to pay for it. All this mucking around with tolls etc would only save a few cents a litre.

    1. The post is primarily about tolling *existing roads* but it’s also a point that we could charge different amounts at different times to ease congestion.
      “Time of use charging will improve travel times and network performance, reducing overall costs for freight businesses and their customers.”

  13. @Userpays

    Here’s an idea.

    Walking and cycling in and of themselves require little infrastructure beyond a gravel track to perform at maximum capacity (The fall of Singapore and the Malayan campaign, 1942, anyone?).

    Let’s charge for the vast interconnected network of high quality infrastructure required to allow motorists to use their vehicles at something close to their potential.

    Let’s charge drivers for the convenience of coming into residential and urban areas in their vehicles.

    Let’s charge for the death and morbidity that this privileged access brings.

    Let’s charge for the balance of payments deficit that looms from petroleum imports, imports of new and used vehicles and parts.

    Without the priority these services have been given over a century, above and beyond the charges levied, you would have a car stuck in a sodden field, spinning its wheels forlornly.

    Choices are not just for those who can flip open their wallet or lobby their representative.

    Kids can walk, scoot and ride, but not vote or drive.

    A government that cannot allow for their mobility is a jailer.

    1. Yes lets make up numbers to keep charging the evil drivers while ignoring how much death and injury active modes cause in vehicle not involved accidents. Let’s start by registering bikes and charging every registered bike owner an ACC levy that reflects the mode’s extra dangerousness, much as we do for motorcyclists. That of course won’t cover all costs but a registration scheme is a good start to be able to bring in rucs, tolling and other mechanisms for charging cyclists.

      Fossil fuel is going to be a thing of the past for all vehicles, a temporary problem at best.

      Kids can already be a passenger in a car and soon won’t need an adult driver to operate one on their behalf. A child in an autonomous vehicle is going to be much less of a danger to themselves or others than a child walking or on a bike.

      And let’s also consider how little infrastructure a 4×4 Ranger, Hilux or 70 series Landcruiser needs to run on. A paddock or dirt track is just fine for that, the gravel track you propose for cyclists is an extra luxury. Is that what you’re suggesting everyone buys?

    2. lol – I know you are joking, but sadly some of the posters here would agree with your suggestions.
      Walking and cycling is available in abundance for all NZ’s. Almost all Boomers and Gen X walked or cycled to school, it is in fact the Millennials that were too precious to use active modes and safety was just an excuse.
      Yeah it would be safer to ride on dedicated cycle paths, but pedestrians have had separated pathways for years and still insist on getting themselves killed.
      Tolling the roads is a good way to address congestion, but be careful what you wish for as congestion is a cyclists friend. Cars are not speeding past you in a traffic jam.

  14. You know what makes sense for building new motorway’s with PPP’s? Doing ‘Design-Build-Finance-Maintain’ or ‘Design-Build-Finance’ should be high recommended PPP’s with private entities.

    The current likes to bring up the Airtrain in Queensland, Australia, the PPP they use build, own, operate and transfer scheme. Only works for regional rail. Build, own, operate and transfer scheme not good for building motorways, exact mess what’s happening in Australian cities where Transurban the biggest monopoly refusal to hand over to central government cause they see it as very valuable profitable asset class whereas regional rail not so profitable as motorways.

    When Michael Woods was Transport Minister, getting Auckland Light Rail under-way, was initiating DBF scheme and close to securing a Canadian investment company. That’s real reason why light rail didn’t go ahead, the Canadian investment company saw his project as terrible investment. High cost, opaque, risky investment and hugely expensive and BCR could effectively drop to under 1 if cost was to eventuate in-future. Looking at the cost in value first is the high priority, before taking it up with a private entity and getting them to fund our roading projects in NZ. Otherwise they’ll see it for ‘bad value’ in return.

    You see the USA & France the leaders in motorway PPP’s cause they use ”Design-Build-Finance-Maintain’ & ‘Design-Build-Finance’. The advantages to DBF are similar to those of the DB approach, in that the project sponsor can capitalize on the efficiencies of having the design-builder undertake the design and construction of the project simultaneously. With the DBF approach, the short-term financing of all or a portion of the project is also assumed by the private sector. This allows sponsors to advance the construction of the project prior to assembling all the funding required for the project. The DBF model is particularly beneficial if short-term gap financing provided by the design-builder allows the sponsor to expedite project implementation.

    DBFM can be attractive to some public sectors, as it creates a single point of responsibility for delivering the project, reduces long-term risk, and incentivizes the contractor to adopt low-maintenance solutions. The private sector would not be fully paid for construction work following substantial completion but would be paid in installments over the length of the maintenance term. Because the private sector is responsible for the maintenance and performance of the facility for 20 to 30 years, there is additional incentive to use high-quality and durable materials that will ultimately benefit the public sector and travel public.

    Targeting congested motorways and roads would be more ideal for all cities in New Zealand than just placing tolls newly built motorway corridors! But at the same-time we don’t to become like Australia’s ‘big three cities(Brisbane, Melbourne & Sydney)’ where we make life for low-income harder by not providing a reasonable secondary access-way to destinations.

  15. ‘Design-Build-Finance‘ highly recommended for doing Motorway corridors! Central Government should do with some RNS projects!

  16. As always, when people are doing something stupidly inefficient and unsustainable there will be a fair amount of moaning about how much it costs, and who pays. No matter how you slice it, with tolls, taxes, fines, charges, there will never be enough money to even pay for it. Let along fix all the damage and deal with the waste.

    All good though when it comes to cars. Technology will fix all the problems.

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